Music and film career
In the course of his career Bators was involved with a variety of bands beyond those for which he was best known, including Hormones, with Dennis Comeau and Andre Siva, Frankenstein, The Wanderers and The Whores of Babylon (with Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Thunders). He also recorded as a solo artist with Bomp! Records.It was as the lead singer and driving force of the Cleveland, Ohio based Dead Boys, however, that Bators helped pioneer the punk rock sound, look and attitude. The band quickly became a popular staple at CBGB's
, the music club in New York City's East Village. The Dead Boys were featured in the punk rock film Punking Out
(1978), Live at CBGB's
(1977) and Crash 'n' Burn
(1977).Following the demise of the Dead Boys in 1979, Bators began a tumultuous relationship with Bomp! Records and its president, Greg Shaw. According to Shaw: "[W\]hat he craved most was to escape the fetters of his Dead Boy image and win respect as a singer of contemporary pop rock. . . . in other words, he wanted to be 'the thinking punk's Eric Carmen.'" To this end, and usually with first-wave punk rock veterans in tow, he recorded several singles, many of which were unreleased, and an LP, Disconnected
, which was released in 1980. A retrospective album released in 1994, L.A. L.A.
documented Bators' efforts as a pop-punk singer.After England's Sham 69 disbanded, Bators, now located in London, formed the Wanderers with Dave Tregunna, the Sham 69 ex-bass-player. The band came up with a concept album, called Only Lovers Left Alive
(released in May 1981), along with two singles.Bators formed The Lords of the New Church later in 1981 with Brian James of The Damned and Dave Tregunna of Sham 69. The Lords became notorious for their live shows. A devotee of Iggy Pop, Bators had developed a fearless reputation in his Dead Boys days and continued such antics with The Lords, the most famous being the time he reportedly hanged himself during a show. Bator's stunt went awry and he was pronounced clinically dead for several minutes. Nonetheless, Bator survived and The Lords recorded two more successful albums.Later, the punk vocalist gained additional exposure through more mainstream film. In 1981, Bators co-starred in the satirical John Waters film, Polyester
. Seven years later, Bators made a memorable cameo appearance as "Dick Slammer", lead singer of "The Blender Children", in the offbeat comedy, Tapeheads
, starring John Cusack and Tim Robbins.In December 1985 Bators flew to New York with his best friend Michael Monroe to work Artists United Against Apartheid music video.[1\]The Lords of the New Church broke up in 1989, when Bators injured his back and guitarist Brian James secretly began advertising for a replacement singer.
In mid-1990, Bators was struck by a taxi in Paris during a bank holiday. He was taken to a hospital but reportedly left before seeing a doctor, after waiting several hours and assuming he was not injured. Reports indicate that he died in his sleep as the result of a concussion. Dave Tregunna said that Bators, a fan of rock legend Jim Morrison, had earlier requested that his ashes be spread over Morrison's Paris grave and that his girlfriend complied.In the director's commentary of the film Polyester
(starring Bators) with John Waters; regarding Bators' death, Waters stated that Bators' Parisian girlfriend Caroline confessed to him years later that she snorted a portion of Stiv's ashes to be closer to him.
In 2013, an American made motion picture titled "CBGB" was released to theaters. Bators is portrayed by actor, Justin Bartha, best known for his role in The Hangover trilogy.